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Contact: Timothy Putman (906) 847-3328
Agency: History, Arts and Libraries

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse Opens to Public Tours in 2004

September 30, 2003

Mackinaw City, Mich. — For the first time in over 50 years, Great Lakes lighthouse fans will be able to climb the circular stairway to the top of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse tower in Mackinaw City and take in the panoramic view of the Straits of Mackinac. Mackinac State Historic Parks (MSHP) plans to open the lighthouse to public tours starting June 12, 2004.

“The opening of the Old Mackinac Point Light Station tower and keepers' dwelling will show a restoration in progress,” said MSHP Curator of Collections Steve Brisson. “Visitors will see up close what has been accomplished in the ongoing restoration of the building - and the work that still needs to be completed.”

The entire first floor of the structure will be fully accessible to all visitors. Placed throughout the building, interesting and exciting exhibits will highlight the history and operation of the station. A number of hands-on exhibits are planned that will be fun and informative for both children and adults. Visitors will see original artifacts from the station, including the beautiful brass and glass Fresnel lens that lit the Straits of Mackinac for over 60 years.

MSHP will fully restore and furnish the kitchen of the keeper's dwelling to its 1910 appearance to show visitors what to expect once the full restoration is complete.

Guides in historic costumes will be stationed within the lighthouse to assist visitors, provide historical information, conduct tours of the grounds and lead small groups up the tower.

Admission is tentatively set at $5 for adults, $3 for children (5-17), and free to children five and under. Group rates will be available. Revenue from admissions is one way MSHP is raising the $2.4 million needed for complete restoration. Donations are another.

“Hopefully, people will be inspired by the history, charm and current condition of this landmark structure to donate funds to continue the restoration,” noted Brisson.

MSHP has raised over $230,000 through donations, revenue from sales at the lighthouse gift store and three lighthouse assistance grants from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. Workers will complete necessary restoration work on roofs and windows this winter.

The lighthouse is a popular landmark in Mackinaw City, clearly visible to the 4.7 million travelers crossing the Mackinac Bridge a few hundred yards to the west. Visitors have long enjoyed strolling the grounds, picnicking in Michilimackinac State Park and peering in the windows of the lighthouse. Built in 1892, it guided ships through the dangerous straits until 1957. The U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse when the navigation lights on the Mackinac Bridge rendered it obsolete.

Mackinac State Historic Parks is a family of living history museums and parks in Northern Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac region, including Fort Mackinac and Mackinac Island State Park on Mackinac Island, as well as Colonial Michilimackinac and Historic Mill Creek in Mackinaw City. The sites are accredited by the American Association of Museums. Visitor information is available on the Web at and by phone at (906) 847-3328 or (231) 436-4100.

Mackinac State Historic Parks is an agency of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries, whose mission is to enrich the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity. The department also includes the Library of Michigan, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Michigan Film Office and the Michigan Historical Center.

Read more press releases from the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.




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